Nvidia’s Shield Tablet a Powerful New Force in Mobile Gaming

Gaming and Entertainment July 23, 2014

Nvidia is adding to their Shield line of products with perhaps the most powerful gaming tablet yet to hit the market, Shield. The $299 to $399 tablet (depending on storage of 16 or 32-GB respectively) will allow gamers to play not only Android games, but even older full PC games.

While designed primarily as a games machine, Shield will contain much of the functioning of a traditional tablet device. It runs Android’s KitKat operating system, allowing it to surf the web, use any kind of app, watch movies through Google Play, and more. Its killer app however comes preloaded with Shield, and is called Shield Hub. This is the central app for playing optimized games through Shield and its 192 graphics processing unit cores powered by Nvidia’s Tegra K1 processor.

Those GPU cores will deliver the game data to the Shield’s 8-inch screen, which is capable of displaying images at resolutions of 1920X1200, as well as 1080p HD video playback. Controlling the action on that screen can be accomplished either via traditional tablet game-playing methods (touch screen and accelerometer features), or through the Shield’s optional wireless controller, being sold for $60. While a wireless controller seems like it could be a coup for such a system (and necessary to play any ported PC gam), it’s unclear just how useful it will be for playing Android-based games, which typically rely on touch control.

While the Shield is undoubtedly the most powerful gaming tablet now on the market, there’s also some question of just how enticing it will be to players. The need to play Android games on such a powerful device isn’t overwhelming, and Shield is unlikely to get many exclusive games. So the real seller could be the fact that PC games could be playable through it on the go. How willing gamers will be to spend $360 to $460 (since they’ll need the controller as well) just to play older PC games on a tablet will likely determine the system’s fate, and price point seems a little steep when framed in that way.

The one saving grace for the system could be if Nvidia is able to erxpand their cloud-based gaming service GRID beyond its current test area in California. If Shield could access the newest and most advanced games and play them through GRID (which would handle all of the computing), it could make the tablet that much more desirable; though it would still beg the question why it needed all that computing power in the first place.

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